Saint Joseph’s University was founded in 1851 by the Society of Jesus. The school started with approximately 30 students, but by the end of its first academic year had close to 100 students. In 1852, the school received its charter from Pennsylvania. Afterwards, the school moved its location several times until it finally settled near Philadelphia’s Main Line on 54th and City Avenue.
The 1970s were a crucial decade for St. Joe’s. It was during the 70s that the school started admitting women, and in 1978 St. Joe’s received university status.
Today, Saint Joseph’s has several projects in the works, including renovations to its fieldhouse and construction of a state-of-the-art library learning commons.
Saint Joseph’s most well-known building is Barbelin Hall, for its gothic design and gargoyles. St. Joe’s boasts more than 50 buildings on its 103 acre urban campus. The school also has two libraries, which are popular study areas for students.
There are a number of on-campus student hangouts, as reported by Brenna Pancza ’09:
“The Crimson Café is the biggest hangout for Greek Life at St. Joe’s. Every afternoon the sororities and fraternities meet there to have lunch with their brothers and sisters. Most of the Greeks have claimed unofficial designated tables, which they use for informal lunch and dinner gatherings, and places to catch up on Campus.
Many other groups of students besides Greeks also hang out at the Crimson Café, as well. Every Tuesday and Thursday from 11:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. the Crimson Café becomes even more crowded than usual for Free Period, which is a period when no students have classes. This is a time that is designated for groups to have meetings, however, if a student has no meetings, lots of times they can be found just hanging out with friends in one of the Cafes.
Located adjacent to the Crimson Café is the Hawk Rock, which is a little gathering spot for students to have a soda for free, watch TV, play pool, or just talk.
Outside Campion Student Center is Gest Lawn--a great place for students to gather once the weather gets nice. It’s a huge green lawn where there is always some kind of sports game going on, or kids sitting on beach blankets or at picnic tables, hanging out or studying.
At the top of Gest Lawn sits the SJU Chapel, which surprisingly is quite a popular place at this school. Every Sunday night at 10 p.m. the seats are filled for Mass.
Campbell Library is another place where students like to gather and socialize, either at the picnic tables outside, by the computers, or on the second floor. At a school with a student body as friendly and spirited as St. Joe’s, it is no surprise that even while students are supposed to be studying or having group meetings, it is easy for these study times to turn into gossip sessions about the latest issue of the school newspaper, Friday night's basketball game, or what happened at the bar.”
Saint Joseph’s students have the advantage of experiencing historic Philadelphia as well as the city's vibrant nightlife.
As reported by Brenna Pancza ’09:
“Located on the outskirts of Philadelphia, St. Joe’s is a short train ride away from Center City, and the Main Line. Most of the campus is located between 54th and 63rd streets on City Avenue, within walking distance of many stores and restaurants. Students have the benefit of the nightlife and culture of a city and the comfort of being near a suburban area.
Manayunk is a small neighborhood approximately two miles from campus. The neighborhood is filled with houses that upperclassmen reside in, and bars and restaurants where students frequently gather.
The most popular bar for students to go to is definitely Brownie’s Pub. Brownie's is famous for Sink or Swim Wednesday nights with live cover bands, and 50 cent beers. The town of Ardmore, where the bar is located, is only a quick train ride from St. Joe's campus and has a lot of shopping to offer in Suburban Square, including an Urban Outfitters.
Another great off campus spot is the King of Prussia Mall. It is one of the biggest malls in the country, and is located about 15 minutes from St. Joe’s. The Student Union Board sponsors buses to take students without a car there several weekends a semester.”
As reported by Brenna Pancza ’09:
“Every year, freshman move in about a week earlier than the upperclassmen. Volunteers known as SJU-Haul sign up to help the freshmen and their parents carry their belongings into the dorms. Typically, every campus organization has at least a few members sign up to come down to school early and help out with this day.
In recent years, however, there has been controversy because members of the Greek life community have been misusing this opportunity to interact with the incoming freshman class. Many Greek organizations use move-in day as an early recruitment opportunity, or a chance to invite freshmen to parties.
Last fall, a member of a fraternity came under criticism in the school newspaper for inviting a freshman girl to a party. It is questionable whether these groups are actually trying to welcome the freshmen and make move-in day easier for them, or if they are using this day to help their own organization.
Every Sunday night, hundreds of SJU students make it a point to attend 10 p.m. mass. Usually delivered by one of the campus’ favorite Jesuits, Father Phil, the mass is a very popular way to end the weekend. This is not mandatory, and lots of students never attend mass while they go here, but for many students it's a tradition they keep for their four years here.
The sermons are very engaging as the priests usually find some way to help St. Joe’s students relate to the Scripture readings. The University Singers also sing every week, and the homily is typically directed at campus life.”
Michael J. Hagan, CEO of NutriSystems, Inc. and Forbes 2006 Entrepreneur of the Year
John F. Lehman (1964), former Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, member of the 9/11 Commission, and author
Jim Lynam (1963), former NBA head coach
Joseph McKenna, former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
Jamie Moyer (1985), MLB pitcher
Jameer Nelson (2004), current NBA player
Jim O’Brien, NBA head coach
Vince Papale (1968), former NFL player for the Philadelphia Eagles and inspiration for the movie “Invincible”
Jack Ramsay (1949), Hall of Fame NBA coach
Jack Whitaker (1947), Emmy award-winning sports broadcaster
Saint Joseph’s most popular D-I athletic program is the men’s basketball team, which is part of the Atlantic Ten Conference and Philadelphia’s Big Five. The Hawks have a rich basketball tradition, and a long list of alumni who have been key contributors to the NBA over the years. The men’s basketball team is annually in contention for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, making the team a favorite among students.
As reported by Brenna Pancza ’09:
“The basketball games are extremely fun to attend, and students seem to have an unshakeable belief that ‘The Hawk Will Never Die’.”
Saint Joe’s fields 19 other D-I athletic teams, and offers numerous club and intramural sports for its students.
There are no scheduled classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 11:15am and 1:00pm
Fans of the St. Joe’s Hawks often chant "The Hawk Will Never Die” at sporting events.
The Hawk mascot must never stop flapping its “wings” during basketball games.
Despite not playing football in college, SJU alum Vince Papale made it to the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Saint Joseph’s 2008 Commencement speaker was Brian Duperreault.
As reported by Brenna Pancza ’09:
“The Freshman dorms at Saint Joe’s are LaFarge, Sourin, and McShain. LaFarge and Sourin are suite-style living, with anywhere from 15 to 20 people living in a suite together and sharing a common living area and bathrooms. The floors in these dorms are divided according to gender.
McShain is across City Ave on the Merion side of campus and is divided into halls like a typical freshman dorm. It is a lot newer and nicer than the other two dorms, with bigger rooms, and a beautiful lawn in the back that's perfect for playing Frisbee or tanning in nice weather. LaFarge and McShain are both air conditioned, while Sourin is not.
I lived in Sourin my freshman year, and although it was called ‘sweaty Sourin’ and lots of the kids were crammed into triples that should have been doubles, it was a lot of fun. There are also several freshman houses including Quirk, Tara Hall, Hogan Hall, and Jordan Hall, which are older houses spread across campus. Sometimes sophomores also live in these residences. At least one Resident Assistant lives on each floor and offers guidance, plans floor events, and makes sure students are obeying the rules.
For upperclassmen, the housing options are very different. Sophomore year students are still required to live on campus, however they have the option of living in apartments or townhouses with anywhere from two to seven roommates.
The City Ave apartments, Rashford Hall and Borgia Hall are huge brick buildings that are directly on City Ave and were built in the past five years. Everything in them is nice, and there is air conditioning, security, and parking, making these apartment complexes one of the most popular places to live on campus.
Students wishing to live on campus as sophomores, juniors or seniors can also live in Wynnewood, Merion Gardens, Lancaster Court, or the Townhouses. All of these apartments are spacious, have full kitchens, private bathrooms, and front desk security around the clock. Student I.D. cards are needed to gain entrance to all campus dorms and apartments. These apartments also have RAs on duty all the time, but usually they are much less visible than the freshmen RAs.
Once students finish their sophomore year, housing is no longer guaranteed, and most students choose to move off campus. Popular off campus residences are Drexel Arms Apartments, which are solely rented by St. Joe’s students, Pennbrook apartments, Lincoln Green Apartments, and Presidential Apartments. The SJU shuttle service runs 24 hours a day to all of these locations making them conveniently accessible to campus.
Many students also choose to live in houses in the same neighborhood as SJU or in Manayunk, which is approximately 2 miles away from campus. While these houses are an appealing option because of freedom and the ability to have parties, the houses near St. Joe’s often get broken into, and there are strict occupancy laws in the city of Philadelphia, so students choosing this option are advised to be very careful.”